Simple Doc Builder


This is a small script to generate a static html page out of a specific kind of markdown file. To try it out (it will parse this file,, just fine):

git clone
cd simple-doc-builder
npm install
node simple-doc-builder.js --input \
    --template resources/defaultTemplate.html \ 
    --output readme.html

You can see what the resulting readme.html looks like here.

It's built to be used with node and npm, so make sure that you have those installed.

Github Repo

You can find all of the code at


Basic Usage

node simple-doc-builder.js -i input.mkdn -t template.html -o output.html

There are three flags:

  • -i | --input: Required. Signifies the input file. Should be a markdown-formatted file.
  • -t | --template: Required. Signifies the template file. Should be an html file with handlebars.js-style templates.
  • -o | --output: Optional. The name of the file to output to (caution: overwrites!). If not supplied, output is piped to stdout.

File Specifications

Your input file should follow a certain format. Some requirements:

  • All headers are marked with the '#' notation, followed by a space. Other markdown-style header declarations are not allowed.
  • First line is first-level header marked with '# '. There are no other first-level headers in the document.
  • Immediately afterward, there is a second-level header marking the title of the first section. There may be as many second-level headers in the document as you like.
  • Between two first-level headers, there are zero or more third-level headers, specifying subsections.
  • If a third-level header is followed by a fourth-level header, that header is considered to be a subtitle of the subsection.
  • Reference-style linking won't work. All links must be of the form [wikipedia](

Other than that, it just uses normal markdown. It uses markdown-js with original, Gruber-style markdown for markdown parsing.


The script uses Handlebars.js for template processing. The following object is passed to the template:

    title: String,
    sections: [{
        title: String,
        id: String,
        body: String (HTML),
        subsections: [{
            title: String,
            subtitle: String,
            id: String,
            body: String (HTML)

Note that the two body properties are strings that are already properly formatted HTML. In particular, in your template, you have to use the 'triple stache':

{{#each subsections}}
<div class="entry" id="{{id}}">
  <h3>{{title}} - {{subtitle}}</h3>
  <div class="body">

A sample template is included (resources/defaultTemplate.html) - look through that to see how some things work.

The way the ids are created guarantees that each id will be unique - even if two sections/subsections have the same name (or stub to the same name).


I had a couple of reasons for building this.


My markdown files always are written the same way. First-level header at the top for the title, sections separated by second-level headers, sub-sections separated by third-level headers with (sometimes) fourth-level headers for subtitles. If you want an example - see this file that you are reading right now.

Given that all my files look the same, I should be able to have a bit more control over the output. Maybe build a table of contents. Maybe some nice css styling.

Note that the fantastic pandoc does this, but the dependencies can be a bit large, and it is honestly far too complex for the simplicity that I wanted. Which brings me to my next reason.

Ease of Install

I'm hooked on the way npm handles dependencies. It's pretty awesome. Now I know that if I ever want to use this script again, I can just npm install and I'm good.